Microsoft may turn to a new source for its chatbots — Data of the dead

Microsoft Chatbot
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft was recently granted a patent that allows the company to create a chatbot using the personal data of a deceased person. The patent allows Microsoft to use a person's digital footprint (images, voice data, social media posts, messages) and as much personal information it can find to create a chatbot version of them. This all seems a little creepy or maybe it'll help someone cope with the loss of a loved one? Haven't there been a few movies about why this is a bad idea? 

Anyway, the patent states “The specific person may also correspond to oneself (e.g., the user creating/training the chatbot.” Microsoft implies that a living person could train a digital replacement in the event of their untimely demise. Think Tony Stark showing up as an AI version of himself; maybe that makes it less creepy?

Microsoft also mentions including a two or three-dimensional model of the specific individuals based on their photographs and videos from social media. The idea allows people to speak to a simulated version of those who have passed away, much like a certain episode of Black Mirror. 

This has been in the works at Microsoft for a while as the patent was first filed in April of 2017 and was just approved this past December 2020. Microsoft's intent seems to help people cope with the loss of a loved one by creating an artificial intelligence-powered version of them. 

Microsoft would use all the information they mine from a person's data to build a personality profile which will be the basis for the AI chatbots training to mimic said individual. The patent also mentions "In some aspects, a voice font of the specific person may be generated using recordings and sound data related to the specific person." Add that to the 2D or 3D rendering and you will be able to communicate with your loved one via the Zombie App. 

There have been other AI chatbots trained by users such as Replika, Cleverbot, and Real AI but Microsoft appears to be the first to use machine-based learning and data mining to create a chatbot. 

I guess it's time for me to start recording myself more so I can annoy friends, family, and specifically my kids long after I'm gone. 

Mark Anthony Ramirez

Mark has spent 20 years headlining comedy shows around the country and made appearances on ABC, MTV, Comedy Central, Howard Stern, Food Network, and Sirius XM Radio. He has written about every topic imaginable, from dating, family, politics, social issues, and tech. He wrote his first tech articles for the now-defunct Dads On Tech 10 years ago, and his passion for combining humor and tech has grown under the tutelage of the Laptop Mag team. His penchant for tearing things down and rebuilding them did not make Mark popular at home, however, when he got his hands on the legendary Commodore 64, his passion for all things tech deepened. These days, when he is not filming, editing footage, tinkering with cameras and laptops, or on stage, he can be found at his desk snacking, writing about everything tech, new jokes, or scripts he dreams of filming.